How Safe Is Your Water Heater

     Water heaters are those “out of sight out of mind” appliances that we use several times every day. Need to be treated with a great deal of respect. I find water heaters installed in several different places of the house. Many are installed in the attic, the garage, and sometimes in the laundry area. I have even seen water heaters installed in closets and attic spaces next to bedrooms. How safe is that? Whether your water heater is electric or gas it needs to be equipped with a temperature/pressure relief valve. The purpose of this valve is to open if the temperature exceeds 210°F or 150 PSI. A water heater should never be installed without a temperature/pressure relief valve. It is important to understand where the valve is drained. It needs to be drained to the exterior the house and directed downward to within 6 inches of the ground level. This drain should never be connected to any other drains in the house. It is recommended that this valve get tested at least once a year. This should be done by a licensed plumber. If you decide to do this yourself remember that the water in the water heater is hot enough to scald you. Make sure that you wear proper safety gear doing this.

     Additionally regardless of the location of the water heater in needs to be sitting in a pan that is properly drained to the outside of the house. If the water heater (gas are electric) is in or near the garage it needs to be elevated 18 inches above the floor level.

For gas water heaters there is a condition called flame – rollout. This can occur if the vent is blocked, improperly installed, or if there is debris interfering with the burners. This picture here shows the water heater that has been experiencing flame – rollout. Notice that the flame was directly below the flexible gas connector. The people living in this house were lucky to be alive and that the house did not burn down.

Now with all that in mind  take a look at the next picture. How many safety issues can you see here. Just imagine what would happen if this water heater started experiencing flame – rollout. There are clothes stacked next to the flame guard plastic hangers right above that, a plastic trash can right next to the unit and wood stacked on top of the water heater. Somebody’s not using common sense.

Respect your water heater!